Sarah's Reviews > A Long Fatal Love Chase

A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott
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Mar 05, 11

bookshelves: romance, suspense, novel
Read in May, 2006

Fans of Victorian romances will love A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott (yes, the author of Little Women), but it follows the conventions of the genre almost to a fault, making it unbearable for other readers.

I only warn you because even as a confessed lover of Victorian novels, I found the first few chapters almost unbearably tedious. We are introduced to our beautiful and innocent, yet daring heroine Rosamond Vivian and the darkly dashing antagonist Phillip Tempest. Unsurprisingly Rosamond is an orphan living with her cold and distant grandfather, craving adventure and human affection. So no one is surprised when she's easily swept away by the dangerous Tempest. Once Rosamond begins to realize his evil nature & decides to leave Tempest, though, the story really picks up. Many of the twists and turns are still easily guessed, but are told in such a compelling fashion that whether or not you can see them coming is one of the least important parts of the story. Unfortunately I shouldn't have read this book so soon after finishing Reading the Romance by Janice Radway (one of the reviews I'll be posting shortly) because it left me totally judging everything about this book and how it fits into the larger romance genre, so maybe some of the predictability came from that.

When I saw that this book was considered too scandalous to be printed in Alcott's lifetime, I immediately assumed that it was because of some sort of sexual content, but that isn't really the case. Instead the base cruelty of Tempest, which leads him to terrifying lengths in his pursuit to reclaim Rosamond, and pushes her equally far in her attempts to rid herself of her pernicous stalker, seem to be the reason for the much delayed publication of this novel. While on the one hand he's your stereotypical bad guy, every time that cliche would weaken his power over Rosamond, he suddenly breaks away from the mold and shows himself to be even more clever and ruthless than you expect. All the while Rosamond has to learn to think like him, while still remaining the sweet person she is. Mixed into all of that is commentary on women's attempts to escape abusive relationships that ring surprisingly true today. There are also fertile fields for commenting on what the strong relationships Rosamond creates with both males and females say about gender roles, but I'm all commented out.
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